Time for our first regular season 'Kudos & Wet Willies' of 2009. Lots of praise today, so a loooooong list of 'Kudos.' Only a couple of 'Wet Willies' following a game that should fill New York Giants fans with optimism.
Kudos to ..
Mario Manningham: The second-year wide receiver made more of a contribution in the first half Sunday than he did all of last season. Made a brilliant 30-yard run for a touchdown off a quick screen from Eli Manning, and finished with three catches for 58 yards. The touchdown was the first of his career.
Steve Smith: Smith may never be a dominant downfield threat. He is, however, as good as any receiver in the game when he is lined up in the slot. Made six catches for 80 yards, and several of those converted third downs into first downs. Brilliant work.
Kevin Boss: I still don't think the Giants throw him the ball enough, but Boss made the play every time Manning sent the ball in his direction. He will be a terrific weapon for the Giants, provided they remember to use him.
- Eli Manning: Yeah, I saw some of the complaints about Eli's interception in Sunday's Game Thread comments. You guys need to get over yourselves. Eli (20-29, 256 yards) played exceptionally well. He made one mistake, but otherwise threw the ball very well. He spread it around, made some plays moving around and had an excellent day.
Shaun O'Hara/Rich Seubert: Albert Haynesworth is an absolute monster. The duo didn't exactly manhandle him, but Haynesworth did not blow up the Giants running game, either. They pretty much battled to a draw, and that was good enough. Seubert also picked up a fumble on a screwy snap that ended up dropped.
Kevin Gilbride: I pretty much need to say the same thing about Gilbride as I did about Eli. I saw the 'Killdrive' comments in the Game Thread, and the only thing I can think of is that you guys had an entire off-season of hatred pent up and you couldn't wait for the first hint of an excuse to release it. Gilbride had an exceptional day Sunday, in my opinion. He mixed plays, personnel and formations throughout the game and kept the Washington defense guessing. There was a lot of Ahmad Bradshaw, there were wide receiver screens, passes to the tight end, plays that featured various receivers and some creatively designed runs. I know the Giants went 0-for-3 in the Green Zone, but haven't you guys screamed about using Brandon Jacobs more in those situations? When the Giants do it, and it doesn't work, you can't blame Gilbride. Sometimes, you have to blame the players for not getting the job done.
Ahmad Bradshaw: The only thing you can say about this guy is he looks dangerous. Had 60 yards on 12 carries, and looks like a threat to break a big play almost every time.
Osi Umenyiora: Welcome back, Osi! Umenyiora was not dominant play-in and play-out, but he made a brilliant game-changing play in the first half, knocking the ball out of quarterback Jason Campbell's hands, scooping it up and running it in for a touchdown. It was the third time in his career Umenyiora has scored after recovering a fumble. Two things to say about that. First, there aren't many defensive ends who can make that play. Second, when are the Redskins going to figure out that Campbell is a terrible NFL quarterback?
Here is a great quote from Mathias Kiwanuka on Osi's play. "It’s a cycle. It’s a hat trick. Whatever you want to call it. For real , that is the holy grail for a defensive end in a game. I guess, no. I take it back. Ending a game on a sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery, touchdown in overtime would be the ultimate, but that’s pretty good. That’s close to as good as it gets."
Justin Tuck: This is one of the other defensive ends who could make the play Osi made. On Sunday, Tuck did what great defensive players are supposed to do. After the Manning interception, with the Redskins deep in Giants territory threatening to close within three points, Tuck single-handedly blew up the Washington drive with a sack and a brilliant run stop. That's why Tuck is a great player. Tuck had 1.5 sacks, two tackles for losses, three quarterback hits and a pass defensed
Corey Webster: I think maybe I am just starting to understand how good Webster is. Maybe the rest of the NFL will figure it out soon, and stop trying to throw the ball in his direction. Webster had a tremendous, tip-toeing interception, and thoroughly aggravated Santana Moss -- in addition to rendering him useless to the Washington offense.
- Bill Sheridan: Got a little mini-Gatorade shower from his defense at the end of the game, and why not? Gotta give the rookie defensive coordinator some credit. There was a solid defensive plan, the unit played exceptionally well, there were plenty of creative blitzes called at good times. The defense played a lot like a Steve Spagnuolo-coached unit, and that is exactly what Sheridan was hired to create. Besides, he looks just a bit like Spags on the sideline, doesn't he?
- Lawrence Tynes: Made all three of his field goals, including a 45-yarder. A couple of ugly-looking kickoffs, but the Giants needed all three of those field goals and Tynes delivered. That's good enough for me.
- Bruce Johnson: The undrafted free agent cornerback, forced into action by injuries to Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery, was singled out for praise by Tom Coughlin after the game. As far as I'm concerned, that puts him on this list.
Wet Willies to ...
The field goal defense: I guess that's what you call it, anyway. The Redskins made the Giants look like a high school team when punter/holder Hunter Smith ran 8 yards for a score on a fake field goal. By the way, who's brilliant idea was it to use Sinorice Moss as the edge rusher on field goals? Sorry, but that is never going to work.
- The Green Zone Offense: Yeah, I will acquiesce and use Coughlin's term. The Giants left a lot of points off the board Sunday, and I don't want to hear about Gilbride's play-calling. Sometimes, it's simply the execution by the players, and in this case that is squarely where I am pinning the responsibility. The Giants twice settled for field goals inside the 20, and once came away with nothing at all. They have to do better. I saw the screaming about the pitch to Bradshaw on third-and-1. I had no problem with the play, except nobody bothered to block. Then, with Brandon Jacobs and their vaunted offensive line they failed to pick up a total of two yards in two plays. That's not on Gilbride. The Giants just got out-muscled by the Redskins in those situations, and that has to change.
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